WASHINGTON — Scrap tire recycling continues to be one of the most important issues facing the industry, as signified by the recent call to action by the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) to all affected parties to intensify the development of new sustainable, circular end-use markets for scrap tires.
"We have come a long way, but we have more work to do," USTMA President and CEO Anne Forristall Luke said at the industry's Scrap Tire Recycling Conference in South Carolina in early December.
"Building effective partnerships, talking about important issues, and driving effective solutions is our charge."
The USTMA — which under its previous identity as the Rubber Manufacturers Association instituted a dedicated program for addressing the nation's scrap tire problem — challenged the industry and associated, affected parties to achieve a 100% end-use rate for scrap tires.
The current U.S. recycling rate, according to the association, is 81%, up from 11% when its scrap tire program first began.
However, that is under the 92% recycling and energy recovery rate the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers' Association (ETRMA) reported for end-of-life tires throughout Europe in November.
The ETRMA said 1.96 million metric tons of scrap tires from 32 nations — comprising the European Union, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey — went to material recovery in 2017.
Broken down, this amounted to 1.47 million tons granulated, 326,000 tons in cement kilns, 105,000 tons in civil engineering and minor amounts for pyrolysis, steel mills, foundries and other applications, the ETRMA said.
Throughout the year, USTMA members announced new efforts to use new materials and technologies to increase recycling and promote more sustainable manufacturing.
Among these was Bridgestone Americas Inc.'s disclosure that it had begun using recycled carbon black (rCB) to make agricultural tires at its plant in Des Moines, Iowa.
Bridgestone said that it had at that time used approximately 215 metric tons of D-E Black, the proprietary rCB made by Natchez, Miss.-based Delta-Energy Group L.L.C.
Bridgestone has had a long-standing partnership with Delta-Energy, beginning in 2007. It became an equity partner in 2014 and — after Castleton Commodities International L.L.C. purchased a majority interest in Delta-Energy — an active minority partner.
Shortly after that announcement, Delta-Energy said it had selected Robert Genovese, a 32-year veteran of BP P.L.C., as its new CEO. Mr. Genovese succeeded Jeff Flannery, who retired.
Also in November, the Tire Division of Continental A.G. announced that it had signed a five-year contract with Pyrolyx A.G. for Pyrolyx to supply rCB to Conti tire plants worldwide.
Pyrolyx said it expected to use some 3 million end-of-life tires in fulfillment of the contract, and also that the contract would support the construction of additional Pyrolyx manufacturing facilities in North America and Eastern Europe.
Pyrolyx produces rCB at facilities in Stegelitz, Germany, and Terre Haute, Ind.
Among other recycling companies, Swedish rCB maker Enviro Systems A.B. released the results of a study by Rise Energy Technology Center in Pitea, Sweden, which showed that the oil Enviro extracts from scrap tires can be used as fuel.
In rubberized asphalt, a United Kingdom-based firm called Tarmac Holdings Ltd. announced it developed a type of rubberized asphalt that uses about 750 tires for every 3,200 feet of roadway.
Willem Vonk, application and technical service manager at Kraton Corp.'s polymers research facility in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in February won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Modified Rubber Producers.
Mr. Vonk won the award for playing an essential role in advancing global understanding of polymer synthesis and application methodology for asphalt modification, especially as pertaining to Kraton's styrene-butadiene-styrene (SBS) polymers, Kraton said.
Also in February, the American Chemical Society published a paper on rubberized asphalt in its journal, Energy & Fuels.
The paper, "Ground Tire Rubber Modification for Improved Asphalt Storage Stability," concluded that blends of ground tire rubber with trans-isoprene or polybutadiene in a 3:1 ratio in asphalt rubber offered the best storage performance of all rubber-modified asphalt blends.
In government actions. 2019 was the year Ontario — as dictated by the Waste-Free Ontario Act of 2015 — ended its tire stewardship program in favor of individual producer responsibility (IPR).
Under IPR, individual manufacturers and importers are directly responsible for the management and recycling of their own tires.
The Tire and Rubber Association of Canada created an organization, eTracks Tire Management Systems, to implement the requirements of IPR. There are also several independent tire management systems Canadian tire makers and importers can hire.
In the U.S., Utah's Office of the Legislative Auditor General completed an audit in February, concluding that the state's waste tire program needed improvement in waste tire utilization, tracking, outreach and oversight.
Also, the Arkansas legislature considered a bill to facilitate the recycling of off-the-road tires in the state.